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Bernie’s Book Bank was built upon the idea that owning quality books enables under-served children to read their way to a better life. In short, we believe in #fREADom for ALL children.

For this reason, we are excited to share news of a landmark decision that is a victory for students and literacy champions everywhere.   

A federal appeals court ruled on April 23, 2020 that literacy is vital to “the basic exercise of other fundamental rights,” such as voting. Therefore, children have a constitutional right to literacy.

This decision is the result of a lawsuit brought forth by students from various schools in the Detroit area. The students cited a lack of textbooks, teacher shortages and declining buildings as reasons why the schools were “functionally incapable of delivering access to literacy.”

Jamarria Hall, a former Detroit student and plaintiff in the case, said, “The saddest thing of all was really the resources that they had, like, being in a class where there’s 34 students, but there’s only six textbooks.”

If these students did not have access to quality textbooks at school, it is not a stretch to believe they also lacked access to personal libraries of age-appropriate books. According to a 2019 study, in Washington D.C.’s Anacostia neighborhood (poverty level 61%), there was one book for every 830 children, whereas nearby Capitol Hill had 16 times as many books.

Unfortunately, lack of book ownership is not a problem limited to Detroit or Washington D.C. The literacy crisis spans America and is especially prevalent in Chicago.

Bernie’s Book Bank exists to solve the literacy crisis by increasing book ownership for under-served children. We do this by providing 12 FREE quality books annually to the 300,000 Chicagoland children we serve.

While the landmark ruling in the federal appeals court is cause for celebration, we know the fight for equity in education is far from over. There are thousands of children in Chicagoland and millions of children across America who need books. Thus, we will continue our quest for #fREADOm until ALL children have the tools needed to become literate.

Learn more about investing in our mission, $12 = 12 books for an under-served child.

For more in-depth information about this landmark decision regarding the constitutional right to literacy, visit Publishers Weekly and NPR.

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